In between media campaigns with hard-to-reach beauty standards and minimal representation, it can be hard to remember that we don’t owe answers about our appearances... to anyone.
Last week after Sonia Leslie posted a picture of herself wearing grey contacts on Instagram, commenters began to ask what was “wrong” with her eyes. She soon fired back in a post that now has 37,000+ likes on Instagram:
And she has a point.
In an interview with Yahoo Beauty, Leslie shares how language can become insensitive, even if innocent. “People kept asking me that question, assuming there is something wrong with me because I look different,” she says, “I just wanted people to know that there are other ways to ask a question without assuming there is something wrong just because a person looks different.”
Still, people continue to ask Sonia about the birthmark on her eye, with some saying, “You could have just said it was a birthmark” to which Sonia replied, “I have multiple times.”
For all the flack social media gets about increasing loneliness, there is a lot of upside to this new world of connectedness. Leslie’s Instagram is now filled with support for the makeup artist and how she’s inspired others. Finding representation, someone like you is at the swipe of your fingertips — like Leslie, who reminds us not to get uncomfortable just for being ourselves, especially in the form of backhanded compliments or nagging questions.
We don’t have to owe anyone answers. Especially if they’re being negative without basis.
Or if we do feel curious enough to ask, there’s always a respectful way to do it without labeling anyone, part, or thing. Let’s stop using the word “wrong” when asking questions, because it implies we think our personal realities are what’s right.